Times are moving.

Some models that have attracted me recently are the Kinetic range of watches from Seiko.  I’m interested as I already have a 1988 forerunner of this technology (the Seiko AGS) and to see how they have progressed is something else.  I also like them because whilst they do use a quartz oscillator, they’re unlike standard quartz systems as they use mechanical movement to generate electricity via micro rotor to charge an accumulator, which via gearing, drives the watch movement.  Unlike purely mechanical movements however, these can also offer quartz accuracy. The best of both you could say.

Early Seiko AGS Automatic Generating System watch

Early Seiko AGS Automatic Generating System watch

Of course as I said, the technology has been around a while, though a far cry from my early 1988 AGS Seiko, which is the Kinetic predecessor.  My old model (April 1988) has a total full charge time of only 3 days so not quite in the same league as today’s offerings, which on full charge may be many, many months in some versions.  In fact my old AGS if off the wrist too long, takes ages to get the darned thing started. I usually have to waggle it around for about 15 minutes before it grudgingly, in two second hops, decides that it’s accumulator or capacitor is beginning to get some charge.  I do have the updated cell version, which ostensibly gives 90 days, but I’ve never got round to changing it.  BUT – that’s all old hat now – absolutely!

Today’s “Kinetics” as they are now called, are a very, very different animal – Oh yes!

Seiko Kinetic SKA465P1 Black stainless - no frills favorite

Seiko Kinetic SKA465P1 Black stainless – with date if you can see it

And one of the good features I like about the current range of Kinetic watches from Seiko is the fact they don’t have to look complicated and actually make models that have a neat simplicity, which is in contrast to the many sub-dialed, over cluttered faces I see so often when new models appear.  It seems to be the thing that if you can see the time clearly, this is not good!  What nonsense!  The whole point of a watch is to tell the time – easily.  And here are a couple of Seiko models that in my opinion are both good and practical!

The SKA465P1 has a simple dial design  showing absolute clarity – the contrast is great and the layout is clear and simple.  Black dial face with bright white and luminous numerals with good contrasting hour and minute hands – also luminous, with a white center seconds hand with a decent overlap tail end. The date window between 4 and 5 is possibly a little discreet, which is a pity, but at least the date numbers are white against black.  It is however a negative in an otherwise nice watch.  The dark coated stainless steel case could be an issue if it rubs over time and same for the  two tone bracelet, but it makes for an understated and good looking watch. (I have one other Ion coated cased watch and so far over 3 years it has not rubbed, though it’s not a Seiko).

You will note this model has button @2 which is not to adjust the date (which you would do with the center crown) but instead this moves the second hand to indicate the amount of charge the watch has remaining.  Just a note about the bracelet fixing.  This watch I’m glad to say features a conventional strap lug arrangement (spring pins) which is so sensible and means you can change the bracelet for a conventional strap or alternative bracelet of your choice.  And as stated on the watch face the Water Resistance is 100m – very practical therefore as an every day watch.

The Seiko SKA459P1 Titanium Kinetic

The Seiko SKA459P1 Titanium Kinetic – good date window

There are quite a few different versions and another one I like is the Titanium SKA495P1 – a nice example which is also simple to read and use, but a little more dressy.  It also has a much better Date window in my opinion, easier to read with it’s highlighted window, at the more conventional 3 o’clock position.  But on the downside for me is the fact that it is fitted to a bespoke bracelet – in other words you can’t fit a leather strap for example, unlike the previous model, which is a pity.  And there are more complicated looking models such as the Sportura, but for me some of these have a dial that is just too cluttered at first glance and not easy to quickly read the time.  Often a GMT hand is given too much priority and is mistaken for the hour hand.

Another model, the SKA557P1 at first glance appears to give that nice clarity, but don’t let the online images fool you – the typical images really don’t tell the full picture.  Yes it has an excellent face, clear, simple and with good contrast too, but the watch may be spoiled by the very highly polished bezel on the watch case – had this been matte – it would have been just about perfect.

But like everything else it may well suit someone else as we all have different ideas of what we like or dislike.  What I can say is the Kinetic technology is really something rather special.  Terrific accuracy, no battery changing required, no worries about wearing under a shirt or pullover, which can really upset Solar or Ecodrive watches, especially in the UK where we are not in the habit of wearing short sleeved shirts and out in the sun? too often – all you have to do with this watch is wear it every so often.

SKA557P1 dark drown coated Stainless kinetic from Seiko

SKA557P1 dark drown coated Stainless kinetic from Seiko. BUT – too shiny?

And the latest Auto Relay version even allow the watch to sit unworn for up to 4 years! then when you want to use it you simply waggle it around for a few minutes and it  immediately starts up, the static hands suddenly whizz round the dial to the correct time, the date changes to the correct day and hey presto – you’re up and running.

Possible issues – I have noted perhaps four here – one is the Date window on the SKA465P1 model is not so clear as it should be, then the issue of Ion or dark coatings on Stainless Steel – sometimes successful, sometimes not.  Though my experience is good on these so may not be an issue after all.  Then there is the bracelet fitting on the SKA459P1, where it’s not possible to fit a strap, and finally the SKA557P1 model with such a great face, clear etc. BUT looks as if it has that very glossy shiny bezel case which may be distracting.  I’ll have to see that one in person to make sure.  But of course that’s the thing with watches – finding the ideal and the one that ticks (sorry!) all the boxes – maybe that’s the thing about watch gazing and part of the fun.

Oh Yes – times are not only changing, but they’re moving too.

Now if I could just find an Auto Relay model (not chrono) with a nice clear to read face and preferably a strap version, I could be very tempted indeed!  Watch this space!

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